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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1223; doi:10.3390/su9071223

Support Phosphorus Recycling Policy with Social Life Cycle Assessment: A Case of Japan

Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership Initiative (GPSS-GLI), Division of Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 332 Building of Environmental Studies, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa City, Chiba 277-8563, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 June 2017 / Revised: 4 July 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
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Producing phosphorus (P) fertilizers with recycled P is desirable for efficient use of P resource. However, the current cost of P recycling facilities in Japan strongly discourages the government from adopting this practice. To expand consideration for a P recycling policy, the concept of social externality was introduced. Social issues, such as the violation of human rights in P mining in the Western Sahara, have been identified in recent studies; nevertheless, a systematic approach towards accountability was lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to support a P recycling policy with a social life cycle assessment (SLCA) by contrasting the social impacts associated with mineral and recycled P fertilizers using the case study of Japan. We developed a framework based on the UNEP-SETAC SLCA Guidelines with a supplementary set of P-specific social indicators. The results showed that the marginal social impact associated with recycled P was much less relative to mineral P; however, even if we factored in the maximum recycling capacity, a mandate of P recycling policy in Japan would not mitigate the impacts significantly relative to the current situation because only 15% of P rocks could be substituted. In short, we showed that a semi-quantitative SLCA framework would be useful to communicate the wide spectrum of social impacts to policymakers. View Full-Text
Keywords: phosphorus fertilizers; phosphorus recycling; social life cycle assessment; social impact assessment phosphorus fertilizers; phosphorus recycling; social life cycle assessment; social impact assessment

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Teah, H.Y.; Onuki, M. Support Phosphorus Recycling Policy with Social Life Cycle Assessment: A Case of Japan. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1223.

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